Phoenix PD's first gun buyback gets big response, maybe too big

May 08, 2013

Last weekend, the Phoenix Police Department held the first of three weekly gun buyback events, and the turnout was unexpected.

DESCRIPTION Some of the 800 guns turned in to the Phoenix Police Department's gun buyback on Saturday. (Christopher Connelly/KJZZ News)

The good news for Phoenix PD: People brought in more than 800 guns last Saturday  and traded them in for about $80,000 worth of grocery store gift certificates.

The bad news: The department only had $100,000 to start with, so it is scaling back this Saturday’s event. Next week's event may be cancelled all together.

Sergeant Steve Martos said the department’s last buyback two years ago had a similarly surprising turnout.

"Each time we have one of these they are just overwhelmingly successful that we see that there are some in the community who want us to check them, do some evidence collection and destroy that weapon," Martos said.

Arizonans for Gun Safety is raising money online to fund the next two events, and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton sent out an email plea for people to donate.

This may be the last gun buyback Phoenix PD holds because the Arizona legislature voted to ban police departments from destroying guns. The law will go into effect later this year.

This Saturday, Phoenix PD will be running the buyback program at only one location, Betania Presbyterian Church located at 2811 North 39th Avenue.

The department will give gift certificates for AJ’s, Basha’s and Food City in exchange for working guns, $100 for hand guns and shot guns and $200 for assault weapons. The buyback is anonymous, and the police will check guns for evidence of criminal use before they are destroyed.

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